Welcome! We are Iowa’s 2018 iGEM Team – a group of 14 undergraduate students at the University of Iowa,
pursuing studies from all across campus, including biology, engineering, anthropology, chemistry and more. We
have come together to compete in the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition. We are
the second-ever team from the state of Iowa to compete in this world renowned synthetic biology competition.
The competition provides students like us—from diverse majors and backgrounds—the opportunity to
collaborate, develop teamwork skills, and carry out real-world experiments that have a substantial impact. Our
team will spend the summer working in various labs, designing and conducting experiments. We are focusing on
how to genetically engineer a microbe, called Bacillus subtilis , to produce an industrial bioplastic
in an environmentally-sustainable and affordable way. You can read our full project proposal here.
Although we are working with faculty advisers from four different departments here at UI, this project is
primarily student-driven and will demonstrate the excellence of Iowa research and the potential of Iowa
undergraduates on an international scale.
We could use your help!
In order to conduct these experiments, we need to raise money to pay for materials such as chemical reagents,
bacterial cultures, and genetic engineering tools. All donations are tax-deductible and will help our team
partake in the opportunity of a lifetime. Thank you for your support!
About the International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition
iGEM is an international synthetic biology competition where student teams, from across the world, work
during the summer to build a microbe that carries out some sort of ‘programmed’ function (something that the
specific microbe would not normally be able to do). iGEM was founded at MIT in 2003. Last year, 340 teams from
around the world entered the competition, creating microbes that can sense atmospheric carbon monoxide, clean
up wine stains, convert sugar into biofuels or medicines, and much more. These teams ranged from Pakistan,
Kenya, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and dozens of other countries. Last year, the competition expanded to Iowa – we
had the first team to ever compete in this competition from the state. Teams and projects are entirely
student-initiated and driven, and the tasks that students undertake gives undergraduates the chance to explore
synthetic biology through independent research. The competition provides students with an opportunity to
develop academic and organizational skills and promotes the values of integrity, good sportsmanship, respect,
honesty, celebration, cooperation, effort, and excellence.
About Synthetic Biology
Synthetic biology is a maturing scientific discipline that combines science and engineering to design and
build novel biological functions and systems. This includes the design and construction of new biological
parts, devices, systems, as well as the re-design of existing natural biological systems for useful purposes.
It is a multidisciplinary field requiring expertise in biology, chemistry, engineering, and mathematics.